Who’s a Real Artist? Ask the IRS

The New York Times reports felicitous news for working artists with day jobs: they can deduct the expenses associated with creating their art from their taxes, even if those expenses exceed the profits derived from the art. This is good news in the most limited of ways, because it lays bare just how difficult it is to make art profitably, and presents a victory that only a small minority of artists will likely benefit from, but still, the existence of tax benefits for fine artists takes a bit of the sting out of the usual news about tax loopholes.

In a case involving Susan Crile, a tenured studio art professor at Hunter College, the IRS asserted that her art activities were merely ancillary to her teaching, and couldn’t be treated as an independent money-making venture. (“[The IRS] agrees,” the tax court ruling reports, “that petitioner has been a successful, though rarely a profitable, artist.” Thanks, IRS!) The tax court disagreed, affirming that in fact, Crile is a real-life artist, even if only three of her 40 years as an artist were profitable.

But! This does not mean that I can start deducting the costs of cooking rice and beans and buying beer for a twenty-person band rehearsal every week.

Why I Had Kids

Following on Meaghan’s meditation on childrearing and work and the putting-together of grown-up puzzle pieces, commenter Vanderlyn asked the following not-crazy question: “Why do people still yearn to have biological children? Especially when doing so will render one’s life (more) financially tenuous, when there are so many unwanted children already out there, and when the world is already straining under the load of 7 billion of us?”

OK, Gentrification is Lousy. Now What?

The problem, ultimately, is capitalism. It is a system designed to channel goods to the people willing and able to pay the most for them, including real estate.

One Answer for All the Advice Column Questions Ever

At 37, I frequently find myself talking with people about whether they should have kids. This is an understandable dilemma, with the sands running out of the biological hourglass and all that, and the key issue always seems to be, “Will I regret not having kids?” or, “Will I not love having kids as much as I thought and thus, regret having them?” (Here’s a letter to Dear Sugar that lays out the general script.)

Career Advice for Those Considering the Artistic Life

All of which is to say, don’t quit your day job, or if you do, don’t join a 20-person brass band.

Our Money Daydreams: Faith and a Truly Unlimited Bus Pass

“Sometimes, I also dream of getting a bus pass that never runs out of fares.”

Our Money Daydreams: Orlando Bloom and Big Media

Lauren E. writes:

When I was in high school, I tried to write a screenplay based on a book I liked. I fantasized frequently about casting Orlando Bloom in the movie. He and I would fall madly in love and I would never have to worry about money again!

Our Money Daydreams: Huge Apartments and Bustling Hometowns

I start a successful environmental retail/manufacturing company and set the headquarters in downtown Buffalo (where I grew up), and then buy an old brick, multi-story office building close by and converting the levels into housing for myself/my family, my parents, and my sister. Buffalo economy is revitalized!

Our Money Daydreams: Befriending Elderly Millionaires & Finding Bags of Gold

Constanza S. writes:

Sometimes I dream that I’ll meet a really wealthy old person who is ignored by their whole family and we’ll become friends and she/he will leave me all their money. I’m thinking we’ll go out to have pizza and ice cream a couple of times and old people usually LOVE ME so that’s probably all it would take.

Then they die and I’m RICH FOREVER. (and sad about losing my friend who I kind of just met but we had a really special connection)

I Want to Illustrate Your Daydreams About Money

Hey! I want to do a series of illustrations of different daydreams of unexpected financial good fortune. For example, I once met a lady who told me she was at a party where someone stepped outside for a smoke and found a paper bag full of hundred dollar bills.

An Illustrated True Saga of Costly Car Repair

At Coney Island on the last weekend of my kids’ summer vacation, we rode the Cyclone, which has been operating under electric power since 1927.

When we started our long journey home, it was on the subway, which has more than a century of electrically powered travel under its belt.

From there, we got on a Metro North commuter train, another shining example of electric locomotion. Our car was in the parking garage at the station in New Haven, waiting to carry us on the final leg of our journey.

But alas, the last bit of our electric journey was ill-fated: our little ’02 Prius, reliable in its first decade and, thereafter, in its first year with us, greeted us with a dashboard full of automotive alarm. The central feature was an icon of an exclamation point inside the silhouette of a car. Traditionally, this symbol appears as a very small light on the dashboard of gas cars and means “check tire pressure” (even though it seems like it should mean, simply, “Car!”). But in a Prius, according to our owner’s manual, it means, “Hybrid system error. TAKE CAR TO TOYOTA DEALER IMMEDIATELY.”